It’s Not Fair.

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Genesis 25:19-34

July 16, 2017

 

This story from Genesis is actually not a story about two brothers.

Or I should say It’s not just a story about  the two brothers Jacob and Esau.

 

The reason that this story was told over and over again.

The reason that it became part of Scripture,

Is that it is also a story about God

and God choice between two nations:

Jacob represents the nation of Israel;

And Esau represents Edom.

 

(Review maps showing where Israel and Edom are.)

 

4000 years ago when these stories were told around the fire at night,

you can picture someone saying…

Tell us the story of how Jacob tricked Esau – how we got the best of Edom.

And then some wise old storyteller would begin…

 

Rebekah prayed to the Lord about the children struggling within her.

 

And the Lord said to her,

‘Two nations are in your womb,

and two peoples born of you shall be divided;

one shall be stronger than the other,

the elder shall serve the younger.’

 

And how Israel enjoyed that story!

Who doesn’t love to hear a story about how the underdog wins.

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God Leads

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July 9, 2017

Genesis 24

 

My friend Sally tells an amusing story of how her parents became engaged.

Her father is Armenian.

He came to the United States when he was a young boy,

and worked his way up –

he worked for Filene’s Department Store in Boston.

(One of those old fine department stores that are no longer.)

 

When it came time for him to find a bride, though,

he didn’t want to marry a woman from Boston.

He wanted someone from his hometown.

 

So he bought a wedding dress at Filene’s,

and then took it with him back to his native village.

 

He had determined that his future bride

would be a woman who would wear this dress.

It sounds a little like today’s story from Genesis to me.

 

This search for a bride for Isaac,

is a story about everyday, ordinary things.

A man looking for a bride.

A woman looking for a husband.

 

Sally’s father had a dress from Filene’s;

Abraham’s servant had some thirsty camels….

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Faith Story About Synod Assembly

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Good morning, my name is Christopher Hickey and a member of Good Shepherd for almost three years. Thank you for the privilege of representing you at the latest DC ELCA Synod Assembly.

I found representing you at the Assembly to be a wonderful time, and moreover, a reminder of one of the gifts we enjoy as Lutherans.

 

Let me explain a bit about myself to give context to that gift. I came to the ELCA in the late 90s. Before that I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. As I grew older, I became dissatisfied with how the Catholic Church manages itself and how it conducts its work.

 

So, now I get to represent my church at a regional assembly where I was asked to participate in providing feedback to the Synod leadership on its strategic plans, budget, outreach initiatives and to vote for nominees to the Synod Council. Wow, democracy in action.

What a gift. The gift of being included.

 

On a personal note, I would also like to add that I was able to walk right up to Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the presiding national leader of our church, and to speak to her. I cannot imagine being able to do this in my previous faith tradition.

 

In summary, my time as your representative reinforced in me that the ELCA is my spiritual home and that I am truly grateful for this. By the way, that is what I told Bishop Eaton.

Walking With Fear And Trembling

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Genesis 22:-14

July 2, 2017

 

They walk for 3 days.

 

Abraham saddles up his donkey,

takes two servants,

and his son, his favored son, the son whom he loves ,

and for 3 days they walk to what has become known as Mount Moriah –

the Temple Mount in Jerusalem today.

 

In writing about this text, Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard

says you can’t understand Abraham,

you can’t know Abraham,

unless you think about these 3 days

and what these 3 days of walking were like for him.

 

Kierkegaard calls them days of “Fear and Trembling,”

and says that without this anxiety,

this dread that Abraham experiences during those 3 days,

Abraham wouldn’t be who he was.

It’s important to know that these are 3 days of fear and trembling.

 

There’s a Yiddish folk tale that goes something like this:

“Why didn’t God send an angel to tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?”

“Because God knew that no angel would take on such a task.

Instead, the angels said, ‘If you want to command death, do it yourself.’’[i]

 

This is a tough text.

One of the most difficult texts in the Bible.

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Neighbors of Peace

 

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Neighbors or Peace

Summer Challenge: 5 Invites

Luke 10:1-12

June 25, 2017

 

Marleen Brooks of Farmington, MO

came home from work one day to find a note in her mailbox.

It was written by a woman who lived on her street.

 

It said:

 

“Mrs. ?, (She didn’t know her name)

 

Would you consider to become my friend.
I’m 90 years old- live alone.
All my friends have passed away.
I’m so lonesome and scared.
Please I pray for someone.” [i]

 

Would you consider to become my friend.

 

When Marleen posted that note she added,

“(The note) makes my heart sad…

But on the bright side, it looks like I will be getting a new friend.”

 

This month we’ve been looking at the great commandment –

Love God and Love your neighbor as yourself…

And how we can move from being ‘nice’ neighbors – to ‘good’ neighbors.

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Struggles in Neighboring

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June 18, 2017

Galatians 3:22-28

Matthew 22:34-40

John 13:3-5, 12-15

 

Jesus says the greatest commandment is

to love God with… well with all that we have.

And the second he says is like it:

To love your neighbor as yourself.

 

We continue our sermon series on neighboring,

and in light of so many things happening in our world this week,

it is a word of challenge – and a word of hope — we are given today to hear.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Pause and think for a moment…

Who are the people you find difficult to love?

Who presses your buttons?

Who triggers things in you perhaps from past relationships or experiences?

(Maybe it’s people who ask questions in sermons…)

 

Putting it mildly…there are people who just rub us the wrong way.

 

A friend of mine asked for people to share their “pet peeves” on his FB page this week.

In the space of just a few hours he had over 70 comments

about people who drive us nuts!

 

“People who don’t use turn signals”;

“People who throw cigarette butts out the window”;

“New England fans of every sport” (that one hurt!)

 

There is a difference of course between the pet peeves we have about our neighbors…

And the real roadblocks, the real struggles, the real divisions we have with our neighbors.

The former are petty annoyances.

The latter as we learned again this week can be dangerous. Continue reading

Who Is My Neighbor?

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Who Is My Neighbor?

June 11, 2017

Luke 10:25-37

 

The lawyer asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?”

 

I’m not a great neighbor.

I’m probably a better neighbor to those around the world

than neighbors on my block.

 

I’m a good neighbor to Syrian refugees and

I respond to needs inplaces served by Lutheran World Relief.

 

But to those who live on my street

and who live physically around the church?

I’m a nice neighbor –

I say “Hi!” and smile and pick up after my dog and keep the grass cut.

But I’m not a good neighbor to the neighbors in my own neighborhood.

 

Why is this important?

 

A leader in the community asks Jesus,

“Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replies,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment.

And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

 

He says everything in the Old Testament can be summed up here.

 

The apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians,

Compacted it even more…

He says, “The entire law is summed up in a single commandment,

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

 

Travel back with me to the neighborhood I grew up in…

Preston Avenue –  a street with about 20 houses –

in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

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